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Shimla woos tourists with golf, paragliding and races
S. Chauhan, Indo-Asian News Service
Shimla, Sep 21 (IANS) Car rallies, golf, paragliding and a marathon - such events are set to spice up the scenic hill state this autumn in an exercise to bring more visitors.
These events, organised by the Himachal Pradesh tourism department, will soon kick off for three weeks, said top state government officials here Tuesday.
"The festivities start Sep 25, with the Great Himalayan Run (marathon), the first of its kind here," said state Tourism minister G.S. Bali here.
"This time, the weeklong international Raid-de-Himalaya will go up to Srinagar instead of Leh. The motor rally will be flagged off from Shimla Sep 30," he said.
This will be followed by the mountain biking event from Shimla to Manali for another week. A three-day Vintage & Classic rally will simultaneously take place from Delhi to Shimla.
Bali said a centenary gold tournament would take place at the scenic Naldehra golf course on the outskirts of this resort town.
"The festivities will wind up with a pre-world cup paragliding tournament at Bir and Billing in the beautiful Kangra valley," he disclosed.
According to him, the state tourism department would shortly invite bids for a Tourist Helicopter Service to attract high-end tourists to the remote mountainous tribal valley.
The state currently has 56 helipads, and five more are being planned in remote reaches.
Roads are the main means of travel in the state, with railways and air travel virtually non-existent.
For the convenience of budget travellers, the government has decided to monitor roadside eateries, or dhabas, for cleanliness and service.
"The state tourism department has prepared a scheme for the certification and categorization of the dhabas on national and state highways to encourage them to provide good service to customers," said Tarun Sridhar, the director of the state tourism department.
The state-run Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation has properties across the hill state and is under pressure by the government and private hotels to attract more business.
Until August, the corporation made a net profit of Rs 36.5 million - 25 percent higher than last
Red tape pulls down tourist submarine
From Indo-Asian News Service
Kochi, Sep 21 (IANS) Red tape is tying down a unique submarine tourism project that seems to have run aground with the central government still to give its clearance to a Kerala-based firm.
The plan's non-resident Indian (NRI) backers in Britain are getting restless and are even thinking of calling off the venture and heading towards Mauritius and South Africa, said K. Bhaskaran, CEO of the Kochi-based Pioneer Underwater Tours.
"It has been three months since we submitted all the papers to the union ministry of shipping for getting a licence to operate. Despite a reminder to them, we are yet to hear from them," Bhaskaran told IANS.
The state's coastal shipping inland navigation department is also a partner in the project.
The first of its kind venture in the country, the submarine would be coming from Britain. "It can go underwater to a depth of 100 metres and can carry 24 people and two crew members. The total cost of this vessel is Rs.120 million," he disclosed.
The plan is to run the submarine during the day as well as after sunset. Each trip on the vessel, equipped with state of the art safety devices, would take around three hours.
According to Bhaskaran, a veteran mariner who was in Britain for several years, the project cost is being met by NRIs in the country.
"They are also getting restless. If this is going to be indefinitely delayed, we might even call off this venture here and would head to Mauritius or South Africa, where similar ventures exist," he added.
"I am not sure how long we can wait for the sanction. Time is running out."